Thursday, September 25, 2008

@ Mum's in Seattle

After spending six enjoyable weeks being on the go pretty much the whole time, it has been nice to come to mums house and be able to relax and unwind. Jet lag was fun, I spent the first few nights in bed by 6pm and waking up ridiculously early. Still, I am well over that and am starting to get into this time zone. Perfect because it means when I get to Canada my body will already be set to that time zone.

Mum and I have gone shopping, we went to a Chinese buffet which is really nice food considering it is a buffet... Mum took me to a shopping centre where I got a couple of pairs of jeans because it is cold here considering I have been in 30 degree heat for the past 6 weeks. I'm looking out the window of mums house and it is cloudy and cool outside. Guess I will need to get ready for the cold weather. We went to a fair which was similar to the Melbourne Show - except it was smaller and had no show-bags. It was fun. There were rides but it was raining so I decided against going on any. Mum bought fairy floss, I haven't had that in years! I didn't go into Seattle this time around.. we were too busy doing other stuff. No Space Needle for me, but I figure Calgary Tower will be just as exciting!

I decided that I'd get my hair done while I was here because blonde hair with six weeks of brown roots is not a good look. What a bad idea. I told the hairdresser what I wanted done.. but she insisted she was the expert and I therefore ended up with orange looking hair with a bad cut. I was so upset but the colour toned down the next day and turned out okay, thank goodness, although the roots aren't the colour I wanted them to be because she didn't listen to me when I told her my hair finds it harder to hold colour. I hate how they think they know everything just because we aren't trained hairdressers - but I've had my hair died before by someone different therefore, I think I know what happens when my hair gets dyed... Frustrating.

Then, I wanted to get my eyebrows waxed - once again, six weeks of no waxing and no time for tweezing left them looking a little untidy... so, stupidly went back to the same place because mum swears by this salon... Fair enough, mum likes it there, let's give the waxing a go.. All I have to say is I am NEVER going back there again. She took way too long to wax each eye resulting in more pain because she doubled up on waxing parts of my eyebrow and that hurt. She also plucked what felt like 5 hairs at once and it felt like hair was being yanked out of my eyebrow instead of carefully plucked. The worst thing of all was when she decided to CUT the hair on my eyebrows with a pair of scissors. I almost cried. I didn't want my eyebrows snipped. I told her not to cut the other eyebrow hair because when you cut the hair, you cut the point off therefore making the hair appear THICKER which defeats the purpose of getting your eyebrows waxed because you want them to look less bushy. She thought I was crazy but didn't cut the other eyebrow and when I got home I could tell that one eyebrow (the one she cut) looks darker than the one she didn't cut. I was... actually no.. I AM furious. She snipped it before I even had a chance to do anything. The point of my eyebrow will never come back now. Stupid woman. To top it all off I had to tip her because that is what American's do! ergh. Not happy Jan

** Tomorrow I will be in Vancouver!! ** I am a little excited about this but also a little nervous. I will spend 5 days there and am hoping to set up a bank account and stuff before Kirsty and I move to Calgary. I'm not sure how long I want to spend in Calgary at the moment but I'm thinking between 3-6 months... we'll see.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Thinking Thoughts

Oh! This is my last night in Turkey. While I have enjoyed every moment of the last six weeks I am really looking forward to having ten days where I can unpack my suitcase and not have to worry about where my passport is or having to hand wash my undies in the sink or sharing a room with an annoying American who talks when I am obviously trying to sleep! There have been ups and downs to this trip - there always are. Can't escape that. I am proud to admit that so far there have been no tears. I've come close twice but have kept it under control.

Overall, comparing trips, I absolutely LOVED Spain and had such an amazing time in Spain that I was ready to pack up and go straight to Canada from there because to me, nothing could beat Spain. Even though Turkey was pretty amazing, Spain still kicked Turkey's ass. There were too many ruins in Turkey and the tour didn't allow enough free time or even relaxation time to do as we pleased, we were always literally on the go.

Another reason why I liked Spain so much is because I had awesome people on my tour. Morocco and Turkey there were a few older people and it kind of took the fun level down a bit - I think subconsciously people toned down their behavior to 'respect' the elders. To be honest, by the time I got to Turkey I was over it especially cos in my mind I was already telling myself there was no way it could be as fun as Spain... I miss the friends I made in Spain and half of them are living in London and I wish I could have met them earlier cos they were such good value...

I think my travel bug is complete for a while. I still want to go to Africa and South America but I think I need to start thinking about saving money and... *gasp* my future, so travel plans are on hold at the moment. I should be excited about Canada but I am a pile of nerves. Starting AGAIN. I guess that is part of the reason why I was so excited to go to Calgary with Kirsty because she is a familiar face and it won't be so scary if there is two of us.

Thinking about it, I kind of miss London. Not living there because the weather really was shit but I miss the freedom that I had and I just don't think it will feel the same in Canada. Unless you have lived in London I don't think you can really understand what I mean. Life in London is so totally different from anything else I have experienced. Antipodean central.. which isn't always such a great thing. It was almost like being back at home with all the familiar accents yet at the same time you were so far away from  home that these unfamiliar Aussies became so familiar that they become your family. I miss feeling like I was a part of something because at the moment I don't really fit anywhere.. not Australia because I have left yet again... not London because that was always temporary and in some ways very fake... not Canada either... I'm actually really looking forward to finding a new house and a job and settling in one spot for a while.. Give me a few months and I'll be hanging for another holiday.. always!

Oh and last surprise.. I am actually considering teaching in Canada.. I think this realisation came because I am scared of finding a job outside of teaching because it is out of my comfort zone... funny how I can travel the world independently yet when it comes to thinking about a job outside of teaching I get nervous. Why is that?

Friday, September 12, 2008


Once upon a time with a good friend of mine, we created lists of things that we wanted to do. Some things were random like... buying a new camera or going for a drive down the Great Ocean Road.... I think we even had strawberry picking which we did together... and I'm not sure whether this was on that particular list or if this was on a new list but I wanted to go hot air ballooning. What better chance to go hot air ballooning then in Cappadocia in Turkey! Apparently this is meant to be the 2nd best spot in the world. The best spot is meant to be somewhere in France.

Anyways, up we get at 5.30am and head down to the ballooning site where they are preparing our balloons. Coffee, tea and cakes are there for us to munch on whilst we wait but it's too early for sweet stuff so I hop around taking photos of the balloons being inflated. I was really excited. Our balloons were ready and 20 people can fit in each balloon. The way the baskets are set up, they are spilt into four sections with five people in each section. There is a section in the middle for the pilot with two sections on either side of him. To get into the basket you have to climb in and stupidly I wore thongs (flip flops, sandals, whatever) which kept trying to slip off. Interesting times. I thought that it'd be a little bit more exciting than it actually was. We just floated up into the sky gently and stayed quite close to the ground although we did go up quite high a few times which made my legs feel a little bit weak and I grasped onto the rails just that little bit tighter - because of course, grabbing onto the rails tighter would totally help me if the balloon actually fell... Funny how small things make you feel more secure even though in reality it would do nothing to help you. 

The flight was around 1 hour and the view was spectacular. I will upload a video when I get a chance and you will see what I'm talking about! 

Cappadocia is such a cool place because there are so many rock formations thanks to volcanic activity (once again, tuned out to tour guides loooong monologue so only have a vague idea) but a long time ago people carved into the rock and created man-made caves. They lived in these caves until around the 60s when I'm pretty sure they were forced out. We went to an open air museum where we could walk around the caves and see how they used to live. It would have taken them ages to carve out the rocks. They had made stairs in the rocks and also foot-holes so they could climb up to other levels. 

We also went to an underground city which has a similar idea to that of the mountain caves except this was underground! Now, this was spectacular. They had dug up to 35m underground and set up life underground. They only used the underground system during the winter months and in summer they lived on land and worked on the farms to provide the food for the winter. According to the Turkish, there are around 36 discovered underground cities but there are expected to be 200 in total. Some of them are obviously destroyed and have been caved in but the one that we saw was really well preserved. The way they set up the ventilation shafts and used them also as a well is just sheer brilliance. Very clever people, but seriously, I don't know why they just couldn't have lived on land and just made a fire instead of spending all this time digging 35m underground... It was so cold too - very chilly. Claustrophobic too. The tunnels were steep and very narrow in some points which was to stop the enemy from gaining easy access to their city. 

Its only been two days and I am already struggling to think of what we did in Cappadocia. Today we went to the Ihlara Valley and went on a baby hike down the canyon. It was gorgeous. Huge canyons on either side of me and in the middle were gorgeous trees and a stream running through it. Very pretty. We saw a turtle and he came out of the water before getting scared by the 15 of us surrounding him so he scurried back into the water. Lunch was spent sitting on the stream - literally. There had been mini platforms built over the water and we could sit on them. The only problem was the wasps. I hate bugs and creepy crawlies so everytime one came near me I let out a mini shriek... only when they came and landed right beside me. I think I squealed twice. Yes, I know it is childish and they are just bugs and I won't die if I got stung but I still don't like the thought of that happening and I don't know if I am allergic so yes, I am scared. Anyways, one of the older guys on the tour, I think he is 55-56, told me off. When I squealed the very first time he said to me in a dad-like voice 'SIMONE. SETTLE. DOWN' and I told him I don't like the wasps. He replied that they wouldn't hurt me and then another one came near me, I didn't shriek but I was moving and obviously trying to make the wasp disappear and he shouted at me again. I felt ridiculously like a child and felt annoyed that he was speaking to me like that. Sure, it may not have been very adult-like to be scared of a wasp and I never said that it was a 'mature' reaction but nevertheless, I bet he would not have spoken like that to one of the other older people on the tour if they had reacted in such a way and I think that is what annoyed me the most. 

I just don't have the patience for the people on this tour. I am tired of touring and spending time in hotels. Don't get me wrong, I have loved every minute but there comes a point when I have reached my tolerance level and I think I hit that point a week ago. I don't want to have someone come into the room and try to talk to me about pointless shit every night or to knock on the bathroom door after I've been in there barely a minute to ask how long I'm going to be or all the other annoying shit that room sharing brings. Once again, this just comes down to tolerance levels and I've lost patience. 

I'm also feeling really unsure about things at the moment. I think that's just because I'm tired and finding it hard to focus. I resigned from my job at CSC and I feel relieved but now I am thinking about teaching in Canada which totally contradicts EVERYTHING I have ever said about Canada and even in general. I still don't know what I want and sometimes I think that at 24 I should know exactly what I want. It seems like everyone else knows and I am stuck in some limbo land still trying to figure it out. Whatever 'it' is. I know that isn't true and it's only been the last two days I've felt like this and I think it is also partly because I have let a few comments that people have made get under my skin even though they are nothing comments.

On a final note, there is this stupid fly buzzing around the hotel room and I can't catch it and it is really bugging me... pardon the pun. How many days does it take flies to die cos this one has been in here for 2 days now! Ugh!


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Elevator Love

I just got stuck in an elevator in our Turkish hotel! Seriously! There were four of us in the lift and were just about ready to push the number buttons to go up to our floor level when the big, fat Lebanese girl decided to squish in with us... As soon as she went to get in, alarm bells were ringing in my head but what could I say? 

We went up half a floor and I was watching as we fell straight back down.. but we fell a little below the bottom floor and this meant the lift door would not open as we were not in the correct lift alignment.

So we spent 10 minutes in the lift, cramped in together, sweating like pigs. Mark was screaming and swearing his head off at the Turkish hotel workers complaining because he couldn't believe this hadn't happened before and they couldn't fix it IMMEDIATELY. I was laughing hysterically cos I thought it was funny - I would not have thought it was as funny if we'd been stuck in between floors or stuck on any floor other than the bottom floor. The fat Lebanese girl was huffing by the door, pounding it as though her pounding would somehow make the door magical open.

A few of the guys we went to dinner with were standing outside the lift door giving us a commentary on what was happening. One of the girls, Amanda, made us laugh cos she told the others, very seriously, to make sure we were updated while she went out for a cigarette. Thanks Amanda! 

So we get rescued 10 minutes later and decide to climb the stairs to our fourth and fifth floor rooms! I get to my room and bang on the door and my American room mate answers. I tell her my story and she goes 'oh no' and then proceeds to talk about her day.. I'm like 'seriously, we were just STUCK IN THE LIFT' and she said nothing. So, now I am ignoring all her rubbish because she is still talking to me whilst I am typing this and I hate when people try talking to me when I am obviously not interested in what they are saying.

Overall, interesting experience that has never happened to me before and of all places for me to get stuck in a lift, it happens in Turkey! 

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ruins and ruins and ruins and MORE ruins...

I am so sick of seeing ruins. Seriously they all start to look the same after a while and then our tour guide talks for 15 minutes about each area of the ruins and my attention span does not last that long so I tune out and end up getting bored. Still, today we went to an old Roman amphitheater which was brilliant because the acoustics were great... some people from our tour climbed to the top while our tour guide was giving his spiel and when they came back down they said they could hear him from all the way up the top. Go the Romans!
We have also visited a Hellenistic amphitheater somewhere else in Turkey which was quite different to the Roman one. Hellenistic amphitheaters focus more on the background scenery whereas Roman amphitheaters focus on the acoustics. Even the structure is different because Hellenistic amphitheaters are half-moon shaped to show the background scenery whereas Roman amphitheaters are a complete circle to maintain the acoustics I guess. I had fun attempting to whistle and speak in the Roman one and you could hear people so clearly no 
matter where you were standing - I decided now was not the time to bitch about the annoying American I'm room sharing with. Even when people were walking up the stairs, you could hear it echo. It was fun.

Other news... I am extremely dehydrated from sunning myself out on the gulet deck and am trying to keep my water intake under control to re-hydrate. I am enjoyin
g sitting in the air-conditioned hotel room because to be honest I am getting sick of constantly being round people 24/7, especially the annoying American. She asked if she could share a room with someone else last night so she doesn't like me either... but then had the audacity to ask if she could borrow my laptop.. I told her a bit fat NO. Well, I kind of hinted that I didn't want her using it and she got the hint...

This is the view from the Hellenistic Amphitheater

I'm meant to be meeting up with red-headed Pommy Tim later to go for a walk around Antalya but he hasn't come to find me so I think he's ditched me. He is hilarious. He is a red-headed Brit who is SO uncoordinated that he provides such a fantastic source of entertainment for the bus. Today I went to get on the bus only to hear that he'd managed to lock his key in his room with all his luggage inside... anyways, his door finally gets opened and we're all on the bus waiting for him... He comes down with his whole set of luggage only to get on the bus to find us all laughing hysterically because we are staying at the hotel one more night - and he'd checked himself out... nevermind the sunscreen smears that are constantly on his face.. he works with computers and he is the typical stereotype of a computer geek... glasses and hunched over, very amusing. If he read this though he probably wouldn't think it so amusing. Oh, he is 33.. yeah, he missed the lessons on personal grooming too. There are constantly bits that he has missed shaving over a couple of days so he has parts of growth that are stubbly and others clean-shaven. I don't understand how anyone can be THAT unco?!

I love to observe others and find watching people quite entertaining. I was waiting for a friend at Liverpool Street Station a few months ago and she was running late so I found a seat and sat and watched people and the time flew by. Sometimes I chuck my iPod in and I often forget that iPods do not make me invisible and get caught out people watching... hmm.. I would not work well as a spy.

Gonna end this now cos it has turned into a bit of a ramble post.

Cruising the Mediterranean

The past three days have been spent sailing the Med. I got the choice to either continue on with the group or go off and do a gulet cruise for three days. I had to decide before I went on the trip so I decided to go on the gulet which is a kind of boat. Turns out I was quite unlucky in choosing this option because it meant I missed out on Saklikent Gorge which is one of the reasons I chose to do the 15 day tour and not the shorter tours - my tour company told me 4 times that I would be able to do both if I chose this option yet the day before the cruise I found out that this was a lie. So, they will be receiving a pretty horrible letter from me because I was really disappointed about missing out on the gorge.

Luckily, the gulet was really relaxing and I had a fantastic time cruising around the Med and we stopped off quite a lot to have swimming time. We were able to just dive out of the boat and use our noodles and inflatables to entertain us whilst swimming in the dead sea. There were times when one of the people from my tour who were also doing the gulet cruise freaked me out by saying they saw jelly fish and laughed so much they almost drowned when they saw me trying to paddle quickly back to the boat...

Oh and it was hilarious because we would hear a 'put-put' boat which was amusing in itself because it really did sound just like put-put and these small boats came up to our gulet and each boat had something different. There were ice-cream boats which were ridiculously expensive (7 TYL for a magnum which is the same in dollars), other boats had Turkish pancakes, another boat sold slices of cake... we saw one boat selling grapes. There were boats with banana boats on the back and parasailing which they were coming up to us asking if we wanted. It was fun. We tried to bargain with them to get cheaper ice-creams but they wouldn't budge so we ended up without. No way was I going to pay the equivalent to $7 AUD for an ice-cream.

There were five of us from my original tour and six other randoms which was cool. I learnt how to play 'cheat' which is a card game and I discovered that I suck at card games but it was fun. We spent many hours playing cards when it got too dark for us to swim. I lazed about and spent my days swimming and sunbaking on the deck. There was a hammock which I lay about on a few times but mostly I just had my iPod in or a book and was either on the wooden deck or on a cushy sunbaking pad.

A very enjoyable time although a few of the girls got bored. I really enjoyed just kicking back and doing absolutely nothing. Having the crew cook for us was good and we had an amazing meal of roasted eggplant with minced meat on top which was delicious. I've decided I really like eggplant so may need to incorporate that into my cooking when I get 'home'.

I keep saying home but I really don't have a home... It's a strange feeling being in limbo. I like not having plans though. I have just resigned from CSC which is a liberating feeling. I knew I was always going to resign but now that I've sent the email I feel really relieved, another weight off my shoulders. At the moment I'm not even scared because in my mind, reality is so far away even though it is actually only a few weeks...

Stay tuned...


Wow this was such a fun day. We went to a place called Pamukkale which in Turkey means 'Cotton Castles'. When you see the photos you will understand why! It was amazing because underground there is water which has calcium in it and when the water runs over land it leaves calcium deposits which ended up creating calcium rocks. The Turkish call them the Cotton Castles because they are such a pure white and I guess, look like cotton.

We got to walk around this place and paddle our feet in the calcium waters which apparently have 'healing properties'. Doctors have recommended some people to go to these mineral springs to help them with their ailments. I kind of felt a bit yuk walking through the pools because sometimes the bottom was a bit squishy and if you know me, even in the tiniest, you will know that squishy things under my feet is not something I consider highly fun - if you have ever seen me around the beach and seaweed you will know exactly what I am talking about. Still, once I semi got over the squishy factor and pulled several disgusting faces I enjoyed paddling around in the pools. After that, I wandered up to the 'Ancient Pools' which cost 20 TYL to get into which is roughly the equivalent to $20 AUD so I didn't go in the pools but I took a few photos cos you were allowed to do that and watch everyone in the pool. It was cool because there were marble columns inside the pool and old ruins. I think it actually used to be an ancient bath but now they have 'safened' it up for people to use. Absolutely a gorgeous spot and one of the highlights so far.

After this I don't remember where we went... oh, Fethiye. We continued our drive down to the coast and for dinner we went to an amazing seafood market where we could choose exactly what fish we wanted to eat (they were already dead not swimming in a tank) and four of us went in together and got two types of fish - bream and bass - and 3 calamari and two prawns (cos only two of us wanted one) and shared that. Once we bought our fish we took it to a restaurant that was in the seafood square and told them whether we wanted it grilled or fried. They charged 5 TYL for cooking our food and for this price also provided the yummiest bread ever and served up a decent salad. I think in the end the meal cost me about $15 AUD which is pretty good for seafood. Even if I had wanted to buy more seafood it wouldn't have cost me more than $20 AUD which is a bargain. It was amazing. Definitely one of the yummiest meals I have had in Turkey so far.

Comparing cuisines - I think they all vary and each are wonderful in their own way. I found Spain to have the least tasty food, mainly because we were eating in touristy places where the food isn't the greatest - although on occasions we had brilliant meals. It's just that we were on the go so much we didn't have the time to find a good restaurant, we had to quickly choose. Morocco was great with its tagines although I was sick of meat by the end. I thought there'd be more seafood in Turkey but I haven't really had that much. I will definitely be incorporating more fish into my diet when I get 'home' because I forgot how good fish actually tastes!

As for my tour - definitely not as good as Spain in regards to the company. I miss my Spanish crew. We had an awesome time. The people on this tour range greatly in age. We have quite a few older, married couples, a few younger couples, a pair of old ladies (like, I'm guessing 60-70) and a few people traveling on their own. At first, I was sharing a room with this fat Lebanese girl who I did just not get along with. She was really difficult to talk to and I'd say something and then she would throw in a completely random comment as though I hadn't even spoken. I don't like that. I don't think anyone really does like that. I eventually stopped talking to her by the second day because I can't be arsed dealing with that. I also turned quite childish and took the key out of the slot while she was still in the room and that meant no lights for her. Really it was just payback for the day before when she took the keys out while I was using the bathroom and ended up in darkness. She also has a fat waddle. You know how fat people start to not be able to walk normally after a while and develop the waddle.. well she has one of those. On the first day we met we went to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul together and she tried to look at something I was looking at but fat people seem to forget that they actually DO take up a larger amount of space than normal sized people. I actually get quite frustrated when they do this because they invade my personal space bubble when they don't realise that just because their head wants to go somewhere their body is actually rounder than normal and they squash up against me and I really don't like it. Actually it kind of freaks me out a lot. Yes, possibly a weird, random thing to get freaked out about but I don't like an unknown persons fat squidge smushed against my body just because they want to see what I'm looking at. That's what hands are for. I'll pass it over to you if you want to look at it, just don't squash me!

Luckily we are now not sharing a room and I am now stuck with an annoying American... I seriously cannot wait for my OWN bed without someone next to me snoring their head off or coughing every 30 seconds...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

25 April 1915 - Gallipoli

Today I was in Gallipoli. I learnt a lot of things that I never knew, which I guess is the point of traveling, but at the same time it sometimes makes me feel like I should know more about the history of my own country. I don't even know where to start. Gallipoli was quite a haunting experience because I stood there looking at the most amazing view of ANZAC Cove but my head was going back to April 25, 1915 and thinking of the onset of slaughter that would begin that day.

4.30am and the Australian and NZ troops were heading to a certain spot on the coast but the current swept them 2km away from their intended destination so when they reached land, instead of reaching land that had easy terrain they got land that had steep cliffs up to 800m high. Being brave Aussies and Kiwis the 2000 soldiers attempted to climb up these steep cliffs - but even though they caught the 200 Turkish soliders unaware, the Turks had a huge advantage because they were up the top of the cliffs so could easily see their targets - hence how on that day many Aussies and Kiwis (ANZACs) lost their lives in a pointless battle.

This battle went on for approximately 290 days (I can't remember the exact number) with a quarter of a million British allies lives lost and a quarter of a million Turkish soliders lives lost.

The whole war was pointless because neither side achieved its objective. For the British side, this was to secure a path to Russia which allowed better access to the country and to have more of a open area to attack Germany (once again, details semi-fuzzy and this is where the 'I wish I were smarter and could retain facts better' side of me kicks in) but it was something about Russia. Mind you, Russia were not even a part of this... it was Britain trying to show their alliance to Russia I guess. Whatever way you look at it, both sides failed miserably which made me question why Gallipoli was even such a big deal... as if reading my mind one of the people on my tour started to explain... he said that even though neither side 'won', both sides fought damn hard and as well as they could for what they believed was right. The Turks managed to gain control of the troop that was 10 times the size of theirs even though they were caught unaware. The Aussie and Kiwi troops never gave up no matter how hard things got.

On the documentary we watched it mentioned how soldiers in the trench would die and automatically the next soldiers in line would go and fill their spaces without hesitation - even though they knew they would face the same fate. They knew they would die for their country and they accepted it. It was heartbreaking to hear some of the letters that the troops wrote to their loved ones back home because they didn't know if they would ever see them again but the letters that we heard read on the documentary the men seemed to remain so strong.

Nothing could prepare me for the images of what went on in the war though... barbed wire in the water, shrapnel and wounds... imagining the cries of pain of the injured soldiers.... in the trenches that the soldiers dug out we were told that there were 3m deep of bodies in there. Even on the ocean shore there were bodies scattered everywhere and you could not even see the sand... to get anywhere you had to walk over dead bodies. With dead bodies also came flies and disease. Many soldiers got sick from the stench and could not eat. They also had diseases like typhoid, diahorrea, etc.

What amazed me was how they climbed up the steep hills and through the shrubs. It would not have been easy. They have to be such brave people and they do deserve to be commemorated because even though I disagree with why they were at war they were fighting with a passion that ran deep.

So, back to my point which I think I skipped - ANZAC Day and Gallipoli is to commemorate ALL the soldiers who lost their lives that day - British, Australian, New Zealand, Turkish - because towards the end the ANZACs and Turks were giving each other gifts and passing on messages to each other - whilst still fighting - but out of a horrible war came the friendship of these countries. Their land is scattered with the remains of our bodies - and there was a memorial that basically stated something along the lines of -we are your mother now because you have lost your lives on our land and now we will keep you in peace- which I think is sweet because it is I guess part forgiveness from the Turks and acceptance for that which has happened.

So much is running through my head and I can't be bothered re-reading this to check if it makes sense and flows so if this is all over the place, sorry! I will add more if and when I remember but feel free to comment and add information for me because mine is quite scattered!

The start of Turkey - Istanbul

Istanbul is actually not a bad city! I thought it would be like Morocco with no major shops and dirty, dingy streets. Okay, the streets weren't exactly the nicest but they were well made streets and Istanbul even has trams... that surprised me. Apparently though the trams are quite new. I went to the Grand Bazaar which is known for its jewelry and many other items of shopping... remembering that I am on a BUDGET... yeah.. well... after the Grand Bazaar I walked away with my budget completely shattered to smithereens... I think I spent about 3/4 of my budget in one day.. and what did I buy, I can imagine you asking - pfft... let's just say that yes, I got ripped off.. but my theory is I LOVE what I bought and so far on this trip I haven't spent loads on tacky souvenirs so that's how I justified my lack of budgeting control. Oh and I also loved the shop assistants who had conversations with my breasts... I really liked a piece of jewelry at one of the shops but the assistant would not look at my face so I decided against trying to even barter with him!

Istanbul isn't the kind of city that gets my pulse racing though. I went to the Blue Mosque which was actually really nice inside. I'm cathedraled and churched out from Europe travels and most recently Spain and thought I was also mosqued out but the Blue Mosque was cool. Lots of bluish tiles inside and a huge dome in the middle. Very pretty. You had to take your shoes off to go inside so the mosque stunk like smelly feet which was not overly pleasant... Mosques are meant to be sacred to muslims - and in Marrakesh, the main mosque there is not open to anyone who is not a muslim because it is a sacred place to them... Turkey does not appear to have that same level of commitment as Morocco!

We also went to an underground cistern which was cool. It was dark and there was lots of water and I don't think it is still used today as anything other than a tourist attraction but it was fun to see. There are 300 pillars used to secure the cistern and towards the back there are two medusas heads which no one knows why they are there. It is thought that they were brought from an ancient building from the late roman period.

I skipped the Hagia Sofia which was another mosque/church thing that I honestly never even heard of so I figured I could skip it. I figure the main attraction in Istanbul is the Blue Mosque - seen that so not going to pay to see another mosque which looks the same. I found an internet cafe and checked the damage to my bank balance and the guy behind the counter tried to rip me off for the internet cafe, telling me I owed 4 Euro when it stated that the minimum charge was 2 Euro for an hour - and I was less than an hour... so I told him so and he looks at me, huffs and says 'oh ok then, 3 Euro'... lol, I had to BARGAIN to pay the SET price at this internet cafe... I couldn't help but shake my head and laugh.

After that I found the group and we spent what felt like forever at Topkapi Palace - but it had nice gardens and good views of the city. We looked in some rooms that had pretty, sparkly jewelry and I saw an 86 karat gold ring with diamonds. Pretty. I'm not a gold girl though... I prefer white gold or silver. I used to like gold but not recently...

Back to the hotel after this exhausting day and after dinner a few of us decided to head out and smoke some shisha... was I up for that? Like you even need to ask! Apple flavoured shisha is fun to smoke. It can get harsh though and is not fun for the throat but when they make it right and it's smooth it is so good. Not a late night because tomorrow - Gallipoli!